New Real Estate – The Garage Condo And Storage Condo

There is currently an evolution going on in real estate. In the same way that residential condominiums grew from the traditional apartment, garage condominiums have evolved from the traditional multi-bay rental storage facilities. Storage space can now be an investment.

A garage condo, or storage condo (the terms are synonymous), is your own personal warehouse located on common property. They are quite different from a storage rental because they are a real estate purchase. They are a real estate purchase that will build equity. Just like any other real estate investment, at closing you receive title insurance and a deed.

The garage condo concept is taking off especially quick in metropolitan areas where real estate space is at a premium. A garage condo seems perfect for those who reside in housing developments with tight CC&R regulations, who reside in apartments or residential condos, or who just don’t have space to expand at their current location. Garage condo owners now have a space for their hobbies, projects and even businesses.

While I don’t own a garage condo, nor do I own stock in a condo development, I can’t help but get a little excited about the prospect of these. If you own a business, you can use the space to store records, inventory, stock and so forth. With this, you gain business equity from ownership, and don’t have the costs associated with a rented “storefront.” Internet businesses, especially those that carry and ship inventory, can store inventory and ship directly from, the condo is they desired.

As with a residential condo, a garage condo can be available in many qualities, configurations and prices. Some garage condo facilities offer a clubhouse, swimming pool and other common amenities. Your garage condo can be customized almost any way you want.

I have seen customizations that consist of nothing but simple shelves. I have also seen customizations that include a custom lounge, entertainment center (it’s pretty cool to watch Sunday’s NFL games sitting next to your project car), a wet bar, security systems, hydraulic lifts, custom cabinetry and epoxy floors. In reality, you can pretty much do what you want with it (as long as it falls into your CC&Rs, and doesn’t affect structural integrity). An owner can potentially recoup the costs of these upgrades when they sell.

USA Garage Condo has a pretty informative chart on the benefits of owning a garage condo versus renting a storage unit. The chart is based on a 10 year period. The details are on the website, but the 10 year results boil down to this:

  • Renting: $154,911.77 paid out in rent (you OWN nothing in ten years)
  • Owning: $139,619.54 (you OWE nothing in ten years – and own the real estate, which you can recoup if you sell)

Score another victory for owning over renting. Yes, we all know the benefits, but what most probably did not know was that we now have the option to own when it comes to storage space.

For more information, visit USA Garage Condo, the website for a garage condo development in Tempe, Arizona. This website has further information on investment potential, uses and amenities.

Buying a Condo

Owning a condo is seen as a hybrid kind of ownership as it is not a traditional structure in property ownership. There are some characteristics that can help in the definition of ownership of condominiums. An individually owned unit is the space that is within the boundaries that have been specified. This can include multiple rooms as well as interior wall that divides different rooms in that specific unit. It also includes storage areas and balconies. The unit is airspace without land, but is still considered real estate.

Common areas

Common areas are the other parts of such a property. This is the area that all unit owners share. This includes roof, lobbies, halls, foundation, floors, elevators, ceilings and basement and so on. Others are installations like water, gas, electricity and heating. There are other areas such as the parking lots, swimming pool and so on, which are also a part of the common areas that are shared by the unit owners.

Property interest

Property interest in the property is conveyed through deed. The owner can sell his interest if he wills to do so. Just like other kinds of property, an individual can hold ownership, or by two or more than two individuals, by a wife and a husband or business entity.

Taxes

Just as is the case with other kinds of properties, the condo unit owners have to part with property taxes as required by law. Every unit and the interest in common areas are usually deemed as a package and is taxed and assessed at an individual level. Common areas aren’t assessed and taxed separately. The owner is responsible for the taxes within their own parcel.

Associations

Usually, condominiums or unit owners associations are established when the condos are created so as to make sure that all the owners are able to maintain and manage the entire property as a team. Usually, a property manager from outside is assigned so as to deal with all the developments and property management. There are some developments that have homeowners association and condo association where they have responsibilities for different aspects relating to managing the developments as well as its maintenance.

There are governing documents that are created so as to offer guidance on how associations are supposed to operate. They also include some rules that all the tenants, owners and guests need to adhere to. These are the legal documents that can specify anything, including the kind of pets allowed and the consequences of breaking any of the set rules. Some of the consequences can include a lawsuit, forced compliance and even fines.

Monthly dues

The association receives dues on different times of the year and this is the responsibility of the unit owners. These dues cover the maintenance and the management expenses. Usually, the dues cover variable and fixed expenses like taxes, pool maintenance, landscaping, garbage removal, building insurance and also something to add to the reserve fund. If the money in a reserve fund isn’t enough, then special assessment can be charged to owners so as to handle the special improvements and projects like furnace and roof repairs and so on.

What Is a High Rise Condominium?

What is a high rise condominium and is it a good choice for you? There are tremendous benefits of owning one of these such as luxurious amenities and someone else taking care of all of the maintenance duties. There are also some important drawbacks to living in a high rise condo. In this article we will take a look at the ups and downs of this type of home.

The first point about living in a high rise condo could be taken as either a positive or a negative depending on your personal habits. Are you a packrat? If you are, keep in mind that space is a desirable commodity in a high rise condo. You typically pay for square footage in this type of home. So you must ask yourself if you want to pay for storing junk. If you do not, you can take this as an opportunity to part with some of your junk. If you cannot bring yourself to do this, perhaps a high rise condo is not the correct type of home for you.

If you love your pets; as most of us do, beware that there may be strict rules governing a high rise condo pertaining to pets, especially dogs. There may well be restrictions on the size and type of dog you can have. Even in those buildings that do allow dogs you must be certain there are enough green areas to walk him. Do you really want to truck three or four blocks away to the nearest dog park on a bad weather day? There also may be restrictions on more exotic types of pets, even if they are small. If you do not want to be forced to part ways with your furry (or scaly) babies, a high rise condo probably is not right for you.

Do you live a relatively noisy lifestyle? Do you like to listen to music late at night or perhaps have young and active children? If yes, then a high rise condo is definitely NOT the place for you to live. The majority of them have strict rules about noise control. What may seem like harmless sound to you could be considered a racket by your neighbors. You may find yourself contacted by an HOA officer or even visited by a police officer if you violate the building’s noise restrictions.

Do you plan on leasing out your high rise condo unit? If so, be very careful here. Some buildings absolutely forbid this altogether. Others have umpteen restrictions on who you can lease to and how your terms must be structured. Some buildings will even require your prospective tenants go before the resident condo board for a stringent evaluation.

We are not saying that living in a high rise condo is a bad thing. We are just saying that the rules for such housing can be very strict. BEFORE you buy a unit there, do yourself a favor and completely read the building’s rules. You may save yourself a lot of headaches.

Condominium Pet Policies – Making Sure Your Pet Is Allowed

Most of us love our pets as much as we love our children. We would never dream of giving our children up. So why should we be forced to give up our pets. Yet many pet owners are “forced” to give up their pets because they found a seemingly wonderful condominium complex to move into; but they DID NOT READ the rules governing pets. They found themselves unaware that the complex either had restrictions on pet ownership or forbid pets altogether. This type of scenario can be avoided if people just read the relevant documentation governing pet ownership for their prospective condo complex first. They do not HAVE TO choose a complex that restricts pet ownership.

Some condo complexes are very strict when it comes to pet policies. Some allow only small pets. Some restrict the breeds you can own there. Some limit the number of pets you can have. While some complexes; as we already mentioned, do not allow ANY pets of ANY kind AT ALL. The best way to avoid this happening is to ask the condo complex manager about pet ownership in the first place. Do they allow pets? Are there any restrictions on pets? If they do not allow your pets, MOVE ON to a different complex. Sure this one may look wonderful. But what is more important; living in that exact complex, or your furry babies? You DO NOT have to select a complex that does not allow your pets.

If you want to move into a beautiful condo complex and you have pets, take some time to scout around first. There are many wonderful complexes that will allow them. They might have restrictions on how many pets you can own, but that is actually reasonable. At least they allow them. If you have a lot of pets, a condominium complex is not the right place for you to live anyhow. In that case you should have a yard for them to run around in. But do look around first. Ask pet-related questions of each condo complex’s management. Find out ahead of time if they will allow pets. If you are happy with having one or two small pets, then a complex with moderately strict rules may be appropriate for you. In that case you would not be required to choose between luxury and your pet. In either case, do search for just the right complex for you and your babies. Do not just blindly move into one.

Even once you think you have found the perfect condo complex to move into with your pets, read the lease agreement thoroughly before you sign it. Complex managers are human, humans can make mistakes. It is highly possible she was mistaken about their pet policies. If so, it will be spelled out in the pet section of your lease agreement. Make sure you do your homework before moving in. Otherwise you could find yourself having to give up your best friend.

Condominium Management Fees: The 5 W’s and a How

Management fees are generally in the top five of the highest expenses within a Condominium Corporation’s annual budget. As volunteers on the Board, you each have your own personal expertise, but require the assistance of a professional manager to guide your decisions, advise of your regulatory obligations and handle the daily tasks of administering the business of your property.

Who sets management fees? Like every industry, condominium management is a competitive field. Management companies will set the fees (often this is done on a “per door” basis), but its very important to understand what is included in the price quoted and more importantly, what is not included.

What do fees include? Be VERY cautious in researching this aspect – unfortunately you may not, or even worse, sometimes may, get exactly what you pay for.

– The first consideration should be not only the company’s experience, but that of their staff member assigned to your property as Manager – often, you will find companies with lower fees because they hire administrative professionals and “train” them to be managers – you will want more than you’re paying for in this situation if you care about your investment.

– A second scenario regarding lower fees involves “buying” your business – the first year contract will be at the low-end of the market, but significant increases will be implemented each year thereafter (while it may seem like a cost-cutting measure to do this the first year and then change to another company, you will cause no end of grief and substantial expense by constantly changing managers).

– The third situation involves a low monthly fee quoted up front, but remarkable extra charges incurred after the contract is signed – often, these are not even itemized – you will simply see hundreds of dollars in additional administrative costs on your financial statement each month. If and when you get an explanation of these costs, it is often a vague reply, citing photocopying, land titles costs, courier expenses, etc. While these are legitimate charges – make sure they are itemized, with copies of invoices or details attached. This practice will cost you many thousands of dollars more over the long-term than a slightly higher fee from another company with realistic monthly fees and transparent invoicing.

Where will we see the benefits of our management fees? You will see the benefits of hiring a reputable, ethical professional in your property values. Thorough, accurate financial and legislated record-keeping; attention to regular maintenance and replacement issues; enforcement of bylaws and an appropriate reserve fund will be worth far more to today’s savvy purchasers who often hire professionals to review the Corporation’s affairs in detail, prior to purchasing a unit in your property.

When should we be concerned about fees? Obviously, lower fees should set off some alarms; conversely, higher fees should be completely justified. The rule of thumb in any tendering process is often to throw out the lowest and the highest – where all factors are equal, this is the simplest method. Just be sure that you look very closely in comparing services, terms and critical practices as well as qualifications such as experience, consistency and prompt, regular communication.

Why should we research a variety of fees? Often higher-end or, the “good” companies, will offer flexible service contracts – if you have a 12 unit property – you may only need assistance on a consulting basis or perhaps partial management services. At the other end of the scale, a 400 unit high-rise with older bylaws, special assessments and multiple insurance claims, may opt for an all-inclusive, comprehensive full-service contract. Carefully review the services proposed for the price quoted and consider your needs – don’t pay for what you don’t need and make sure what you need is included and not priced as an extra – surprises in this regard are never pleasant.

How do we make sense of the fees? ASK the questions and be sure you get a satisfactory answer before you move forward. It’s always prudent to get answers in writing and if you’re uncertain about what to ask; speak to friends, family, colleagues or consult with the local professional organization or an industry advocate to get some ideas. Make sure you’re comfortable with a) the services offered, b) the apparent knowledge, experience and skill of the person appointed to your property and of course, c) with the fees proposed in relation to value for your money.

Remember that condominium management is not a creative process – there are some very set, critical tasks that must be accomplished by every manager. What you must consider, is the depth of knowledge, variety of experience, availability, commitment and professionalism that will allow you to be comfortable in trusting the guidance and assistance you’ll be paying for.